The first Manned landing on Ceres was in 2075 c.e. at Hamada Mesa, when three NASA/Russian space programme craft arrived to establish a base and small scale mining operation. When the crew returned to Earth three years later an autonomous mining operation had been established, controlled by a semisentient AI known as Anya.
This operation was successful in producing return fuel for the next several missions, until a permanent manned base was set up at Hamada Landing in 2100 c.e.. Similar return fuel operations were being established on other asteroids, many of them privately financed, and in this way the commercialization of the Asteroid Belt began.
By 2160 c.e. there were dozens of independent mining companies sending craft to the Belt, each relying on the return fuel mining operations to get back to Earth orbit with their cargo of metals. The Dzougatov Mining Company and the SkyMining Corporation both had mines on Ceres, a small Chinese space habitat was in orbit around the planetoid, and the facility at Hamada was now under joint NARESA (North American/Russian/European Space Authority) control.
Due to the constant disputes over territory on Ceres and the other asteroid colonies the United Nations of Earth sent a joint mission to link up with the four small colonies on Ceres and establish an administrative centre for the entire asteroid belt. An underground town was quickly constructed in a deep Dzougatov strip mine, and in 2169 (201 AT) Ceres City was pressurised, ready to attempt regulation of the already chaotic minor planets and their inhabitants.
By 215 AT Ares heavy Lifting and Lee Interorbital had commenced Spacecraft construction in the Ceres Shipyards, actually two widely separated swarms of manufactory elements in orbit 2000 km from Ceres; the establishment of an independent utopian Jene colony in an old Skymine excavation brought idealists from Earth to increase Ceres' population; and the independent Belters established Freeport, 1600 km away from Ceres City in all directions at the antipodal point.
Freeport was later to become a haven for organised crime, underground political movements and bizarre entertainment, at first suppressed by Ceres city police until the 228 Freeport Unilateral Declaration of Autonomy.